Saturday, June 11, 2016


Ira Desire was a “lanky” ten-year-old kid with a quick tongue when he first crossed the threshold at Granny’s House, an after school program that had become a “Pied Piper” of sorts in the projects - a gathering place for kids who’d come from all over the world: Rwanda, Afghanistan, Liberia, Russia, Thailand, Congo, Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Tanzania. “Desiree” (pronounced “Duh-zeer-ray”) as he was called back then, had just arrived from Tanzania with his family and the English language along with American, mid-western culture was all new to him. Some of the first words he learned to speak well were the same words that kids sprawled across the bricks at Granny’s House after hours. He was smart, sometimes angry, witty, sometimes melancholy, creative, sometimes lawless, and you never knew which version you’d encounter on any give day. He was, indeed, a challenge for Granny’s House staff and volunteers as they endeavored to carry out their mission of mirroring God’s unconditional love to the kids who hung out on Trinity Place after school.

"Disiree" during his early days at Granny's House.

We first began to see little glimpses of his creativity when he’d bring in little minute-long movies he’d videoed and edited on a cell phone. We’d always pepper him with questions after watching one of his movies: “How’d you do that? How’d you catch that scene? How’d you get that shot from inside of a microwave?” There was no doubt that this kid had a creative “eye!”

As the years passed, Ira got better and more sophisticated cell phones and then better and more sophisticated cameras. He took classes at CATV (Columbia Access Television), did job shadows with Steve Twitchell at Steve Twitchell Production Studio and with Blake Godwin and Brett Manie at the Missouri School Board Association’s Media Center. He has been the photographer and videographer for quite a few Granny’s House projects, often makes movies featuring soccer players and rap artists, and is frequently asked to take senior pictures for classmates. He takes advantage of every opportunity to learn and expand his skill set to become a successful professional photographer.

 Ira Desire with one of his mentors, Tyrone Flowers, founder of Higher MPact in Kansas City.

And, all while developing his photographic skills, he’s been honed into what my dad would have called a “fine young man” i.e. kind, courteous, and a keeper-of-his-word type of guy. I often find myself saying, “Ira, you always make me think… you force me to study! You ask the most difficult questions about the Bible!” He’s never satisfied with pat answers or even a hint of religiosity! He insists on hearing the raw TRUTH!!  We proudly call him one of our “Sons.”

 Ira Desire with his little brother at Granny's House; Ira's baptism.

Granny Pam and Granny's House "alumni," Kiona Hughes with Ira Desire.

We were thrilled when he agreed to do a family photo shoot for us when our son come home for a visit from Germany – the very first photos we’d taken with all four of our kids and the grandchildren! Believe me, it was not easy photographing fourteen people outside on a hot summer evening – a large group that included three busy-bodied little boys! 

Yes, Ira Desire is now a “Professional” photographer and we couldn’t be more excited to show him off on our Facebook pages and soon on all of our fireplace mantles!!  -Granny Pam

Ira Desire doing a family photo shoot at Shelter Gardens.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


A young Kiona Helping out in the 
Homework Room at Granny's House

Signing in kids as they arrive 
at Granny's House

Hanging out with "Miss Adrian" (Adrian Clifton), 
G.I.R.L.S. Group Leader

Central Methodist University in Fayette, MO

CMU's motto and values

At CMU with the key to her dorm room 
and to her future!

The perfect place to photograph a student 
who's on a track scholarship

Poppi's and Granny Pam's 
very first visit to CMU's campus
Kiona finally made it to college: 

For more than seven years, we’ve talked about it, brainstormed it, and probably even role-played it a time or two before the day actually came: Kiona Hughes is a college girl!

Sixth grade Kiona first came bouncing into Granny’s House with a great big grin and eyes wide, full of curiosity about this place in the neighborhood called “Granny’s House.” She’d heard about it from a neighbor and immediately felt at home. She parked her backpack and her heart there everyday after school.

Early on, it was obvious that Kiona was a leader. She peppered us with questions like, “Granny, what can I do to help… what can we do to help inform the volunteers of what’s goin’ on around here every week? Can I have the job of signing kids in?” Granny’s House quickly became her home away from home and she wanted to do whatever she could to help make her “home” run smoothly.

During those seven+ years, her pathway was strewn with all kinds of challenges - some much broader than a twelve-year-old’s shoulders should have to bear, but at every intersection, I encouraged her, “Kiona, there’s gonna come a day when you have your own place and make your own decisions… that first place will be your college dorm room.” We often joked about the day she’d own the key to that first “place” and get to say who’s in, who’s out, and “…by the way, it’s time to get out!” We have had this, sometimes, funny conversation, dozens of times over the years.

Kiona’s challenging seasons were tempered by her participation in just about every program or group available at Granny’s House: God’s Precious Jewels, The Princess Academy, Caleb - The Science Club, and the G.I.R.L.S. Group. During her senior year at Hickman High School, Kiona became our very first paid “Junior Staff” member, helping in office with various administrative tasks and assisting with groups for younger Granny’s House kids.

This fall, Kiona finally embarked on her long-awaited journey to Central Methodist University in Fayette, MO where she’s a student athlete on a track scholarship, running on the women’s track team. On our very first visit to CMU’s campus to see Kiona, there were no words to describe the joy we felt as, now, College-Freshman-Kiona took us on a tour of her beautiful campus. Since we had talked about this day so many times before, my heart sang as she turned the key in the lock of her dorm room door. That door is leading Kiona Hughes to an exciting, full-of-promise future.
“Honestly, I just love Granny’s House sooooo much! When I look back at my life 
over the years, there’s no way I would be in anybody’s college if I had not had 
a place called HOME: Granny’s House." -Kiona Hughes

Monday, August 26, 2013


What would you call a girl who plays cello, guitar and keyboards, loves horses, has lived in Camaroon and Fiji, and recently turned down a full-time job managing a popular women’s clothing store because she's looking for more than “just a job.” What if she has a degree in Biblical Studies and leads worship at a maximum security prisons and also teaches school children to become excellent singers and musicians… I’d call her the newest staff member at Granny’s House: Natasha Jackson – “Tash” (pronounced like “ash”) as some call her.

When Jane Williams, Love INC. founder, whom I affectionately call “The Columbia Connector,” suggested that I interview her for a position at Granny’s House, I jumped at chance because Jane is like E. F. Hutton in Columbia’s church community. When she talks, people listen because she has an uncanny way of discerning who would be a good fit for specific ministries. When “Tash” and I first met some weeks ago, I sat there thinking: “This is just too good to be true!”

I had planned to write a blog about Natasha Jackson, but I think her “raw” responses to my questions are best unembellished!  Welcome to Granny’s House, Natasha! We are so thrilled to have you on the team!


1. In what countries have you have lived?
Yaounde, Cameroon and Suva, Fiji. 

2. What took you to those places?
College ministry. Orphan ministry in Africa as well. I went with Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru). I have felt a calling to Fiji since I was in the 5th grade, and finally went in 2011!

3. How would you describe your relationship with the Lord?
My relationship with the Lord is a never-ending conversation with Him. He is my best friend, counselor, comforter, romancer, Savior, shield, and Rock. I strive to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

4. When/how did you first hear about Granny's House?
I first heard about Granny's House in high school when my parents were home parents at Coyote Hill Christian Children's Home in Harrisburg, MO. We volunteered [at Granny's House] one day, serving dinner. 

5. How will you approach ministry to public housing children?
Completely relational! I want to get to know these kids' hearts and provide a safe place of trust for them. Patience and understanding. A lot of listening...I want to be a confidant and friend to these kids. 

6. What experiences (educational, spiritual etc.) have most prepared you for your role at Granny's House?
Living at Coyote Hill for 3 years with so many different kinds of kids from hard and various backgrounds. Living in Cameroon, Africa for a summer and learning how to relate to Africans by being completely immersed in their culture. 

7. What impact do you hope/anticipate having on the children and families involved with Granny's House?
I want to be a light in a dark place and encourage hope in places where it may seem lost. I want to make the love of God and His Gospel known to everyone. I hope that these children and families will see me as a friend that they can truly trust--a safe person. I want to help provide consistency in lives that may seem chaotic. 

8. Anything else you want those who read this to know about you?
I'm so excited to be joining the Granny House team! I hope to get to know each one of the children and the families well and help provide a safe haven full of trust, hope, and fun!

 Nathash and friends in Cameroon...

 Comfort to child while living in Africa...

 Natahsa with fiancee, Kory Myrick...

With Sue Crane, Spirit Riders Founder and Director... we're thrilled that "Tash" loves horses!

 Making many new friends at Granny's House...

Friday, August 23, 2013


After 10 years as Granny’s House Program Coordinator, hugging hundreds of kids, passing out what must have seemed like millions of backpacks (and probably as many cups of juice), and graduating dozens of Princess Academy girls, Angie Azzanni is stepping into a whole new realm of ministry outside of public housing as she launches a new venture, “Cora.” Through Cora, Angie and co-founder, Travis Craig, will help connect at-risk kids with sports teams and coaches, jobs, tutors, academic counselors etc.

Angie describes Cora this way: “The root word ‘Cor’ means heart and also courage; a vital wellspring of life that makes things function and provides supply to the rest of the body for productive, redemptive lifestyles.” 

Tireless, faithful, hard-working, super-organized, devoted are just a few of the words that describe Angie’s life and approach to ministry. When we first learned of her plans to leave Granny's House to launch Cora, it was difficult to imagine Granny’s House without her. I am certain that one day, many will find it difficult to imagine life without Cora! 

We hope you enjoy this photographic stroll down memory lane!

-Granny Pam

Thursday, July 11, 2013

TIGERS ON THE PROWL: Meet the Artist, Sue Yarbrough

It was nearly ten years ago that I first laid eyes on Sue Yarbrough’s art - intricate mosaics, rich in color, pattern, and texture. This was no big city gallery of fine art where I stood captivated by her unforgettable compositions. It was the home of Sue’s daughter and son-in-law, Elly and Brett Barton where there were expressions of Sue’s creativity and talent gracing just about every room.

In addition to traditional mediums like acrylics, pens, and pastels, Sue Yarbrough also uses bits and pieces: things like newspaper, lace, leather…  even cork, fabric, and aquarium gravel to create amazing portraits and landscapes on canvas. When I first encountered her art, I wanted everyone I knew to see it - every building adorned with something signed by “Sue Yarbrough.” I was a fast-fan, and when Granny’s House was invited to participate in Tigers on the Prowl, “Sue Yarbrough” was the very first name that popped into my mind.

My personal favorite is the king-sized headboard she created for Brett and Elly. It’s nearly eight feet wide and, from afar, this panoramic landscape looks like a forest in winter. On closer examination, I saw tree trunks and branches fashioned out of cork, hints of the last remaining leaves of winter formed by verses from the “Song of Solomon.” I just stood there staring, hardly able to take in all the beauty, whimsy, and depth of meaning splayed across this functional piece of art.

Though Sue Yarbrough is camera-shy, often self-effacing, and difficult to pin down for a quote or a photo, she was once commissioned by local businessman, Mike McClung, to create a four-panel mural of Las Vegas as seen from the Mandalay Bay Hotel, incorporating tiles she custom made just for this project. To help her envision exactly what he had in mind for this masterpiece, Mr. McClung flew her to Las Vegas so she could get a firsthand glimpse of the cityscape he wanted her to create for his Columbia residence. When the mural was finally completed, he was thrilled, paying thousands to own a Yarbrough original and the masterpiece was featured in Inside Columbia Magazine in October 2008. 

These days, Sue’s passion is to create art that is both beautiful and meaningful - art that reflects the beauty of God. On “Bijou,” Sue once again used non-traditional mediums - “found objects” this time. The tiger is covered, from head-to-toe, with at least a million buttons, beads, and little-bitty toys. At the recent grand unveiling of all ten “Tigers On The Prowl” at Columbia Mall, onlookers “oooohed” and “aaaaaahed,” arrested by the beauty, and realism of the faces of Granny’s House kids that came into focus as they got closer to Bijou; amazed by the whimsy of the multi-colored stripes and the piercing beauty of her bright blue eyes. Like grownup kids, many passersby paused to concentrate, as if looking at a page from a grownup version of an “I Spy” book, delighting in the discovery of one hidden treasure after another.    -Pamela Ingram

(Brad Noblitt Photos used by permission).